THE BIBLE RECORDS NUMEROUS instances where God called men and women to serve Him. Each time, God would come down to their level by explaining and giving assurances.
Samuel’s mother Hannah had been barren and praying desperately for a child. God granted her Samuel, whom she dedicated to God. Consequently, Samuel was apprenticed to the priest Eli.
“So now I give him to the LORD.” (1 Sam 1). Recognising God’s voice Samuel was just a child when God first called him. (1 Sam 3). Eli was the one who helped Samuel recognise that God had called him and advised him to respond when God called him.
First assignment: ‘You will not be forgiven!’ Having learnt to recognise God’s voice, Samuel was tasked to deliver devastating news to Eli, his beloved mentor: “because you could not restrain your debauched, blaspheming sons, God will enact utter judgement upon your family.”
Samuel could have backed out or left out part of the message. Ironically, Eli was the one who had threatened him:
“What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything He told you.”
Following this threat, Samuel revealed everything – even though it meant heartbreak and condemnation for Eli.
This was the first of many occasions Samuel would be charged with telling people things they did not want to hear. E.g., Samuel repeatedly exposed King Saul’s deceits and eventually pronounced that God had rejected him. Like Saul, people often did not respond well.
God gave Samuel a difficult job, but nurtured him for success Even till the end of his days, each time prophet Samuel delivered bad news, he would remember Eli’s warning: “May God deal with you… if you hide from me anything…”
This harsh lesson had been imparted to Samuel right at the start, and it was better to have come from Eli rather than God Himself – this was only Samuel’s first encounter with God.
For boy Samuel, God: – gently allowed him to recognise His voice, – demanded of him a dreadful task, – taught him through Eli to do it faithfully, – provided a reassuring result.
Eli began the day threatening Samuel, but reacted calmly once judgment was pronounced. “He is the LORD; let Him do what is good in His eyes.” So, in this very first assignment, Samuel was spared resentment and anger from his beloved mentor.
Perhaps it’s God’s way of reassuring Samuel as always: Just tell them, and I will take care of the consequences.
May we listen when God calls, be strengthened by His nurturing and do great things for Him.